Explore UCD

UCD Home >

Technology Enhanced Learning


In this phase, the planning outputs from the analysis stage are used to create an outline of the learning process and to inform the design of the blended/online learning components. The design phase typically involves determining the learning outcomes, the learning materials and activities, the assessment, the mode of delivery and role of the lecturer. Within this section we outline suggested design steps and some overarching design principles that may be useful to consider.  We also provide ideas on integrating teaching and learning activities and embedding educational technologies which can be applicable to all modes of delivery from face-to-face to blended, to fully online.

Design Principles

Constructive alignment (Biggs and Tang, 2007) is the most fundamental principle of design in the outcomes-based curriculum that is used in UCD. It is concerned with ensuring there is coherence between learning outcomes and the alignment of teaching and learning activities and assessments, with a focus on what the learner is doing.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a principle-based approach to curriculum development which provides all students with equal opportunities to learn. This framework recommends that educators follow three core principles when designing learning experiences by including:

  • multiple means of engagement;
  • multiple means of representation;
  • multiple means of action and expression.

Implementation of universal design should be done at the module or programme design stage regardless of the mode of delivery.

Learn More

Design Steps

Starting from the aforementioned principles, it is recommended that the following steps are considered when designing a blended or online module:

  • Review the Nine Principles for Universal Design for Instruction and consider some simple strategies for implementation in your module design.
  • Consider what your students will learn, or what they will have achieved at the end of the module.
  • Consider the needs of your student group and the context of their learning, for example your student cohort, their existing knowledge and previous experience.
  • Determine which assessment types are most appropriate to assess student learning; you can then determine which structure, learning materials, assessment and feedback activities fit best.
  • Based on these considerations, write the module learning outcomes
  • For some practical examples and strategies to implement refer to: Universal Design for Curriculum Design; Case Studies from University College Dublin
  • Consider the various activities students can do to work towards achieving the learning outcomes. 
  • Consider what learning materials to include for students. Consider using a variety of types of materials to engage all students, such as slides, documents, or audio and visual material. 
  • Consider how best to present these learning materials i.e. in synchronous vs. asynchronous format.
  • Consider which of these learning activities or assessments would best lend themselves to blended/online delivery.
  • Consider how students can learn from each other. Emphasise active student learning, in particular students’ peer learning, self-monitoring and autonomous learning. From this a learning pathway will emerge that connects these activities.  
  • Based on these considerations, align the module learning outcomes, assessment approaches and teaching and learning activities.
  • What learning materials do you make available and when? Consider a variety of methods of instruction. What do you present or demonstrate in the face-to-face or via recorded online or synchronous lectures? Blended and online learning can be designed to integrate independent study, guided study, online scheduled contact and in-classroom teaching and learning activities in a variety of different ways dependent on the curriculum and students.
  • Where do you offer space for student interaction with peers as well as the lecturer or tutor?
  • How and when do you give students feedback and how do they develop their own skills of self monitoring?
  • How will you maintain an online presence and be available to support learners while also creating an online community of learners?

Integrating Teaching and Learning Activities

Littlejohn and Pegler (2007) describe four types of approaches to integrating your teaching and learning that could be appropriate for different types of blended and online learning contexts:

  1. The space blend, which can be virtual and/or physical;
  2. The time blend, which can be synchronous or asynchronous; 
  3. The media blend, which includes the types of tools and resources;
  4. The activity blend, which includes the organisation of different activities and resources. 

The efficiency of the module from both your and the students’ time is very important. In your initial module design consider the balance in students’ time between: what they are required to study (autonomous student learning); tasks they are prescribed to do themselves in Brightspace or out-of-class (specified student learning tasks, including assessment activities); and the content that is addressed in the face-to-face or online monitored contact hours (lectures/labs/tutorials/online group discussions).  

In the case of blended learning, the virtual learning environment allows students to engage with the materials before, during and after class, consider the best sequence for when and how students might do this. For example, develop a plan to wrap the blend of content, activities and resources (Littlejohn & Pegler, 2007).

Embed Educational Technology

Regardless of the mode of delivery, the key objective is the achievement of learning outcomes and pedagogy should drive decisions relating to the use of the most appropriate technologies. You should consider the needs of your student cohort and the context of their learning. Based on this, decide what are the key learning tasks and assessment activities. It is only then that you should consider what technologies are most suitable to support these activities.

The video below, produced by Australian Learning & Teaching Council provides you with some considerations for choosing the right technology to match your needs. 

Please ensure you have cookies enabled on your browser to view the video. If you cannot see the video, go to cookie preferences and allow targeting cookies.

See below examples of six types of learning; supported by various educational technologies and tools (adapted from Laurillard’s 2012, Conversational Framework) which can be used in various modes of delivery.  This guide is by no means an exhaustive list of all available options, but can serve as a starting point when designing your module. It may be useful to also refer to our UCD Educational Technologies webpage to familiarise yourself with the educational technologies currently available and supported in UCD.

In this form of learning, students can be quite passive as they are primarily learning through reading, listening or watching.  However, this can be made more active if these resources are designed into activities. 

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Online videos: instructional videos in various formats such as screencasts (See TEL Quick Guide), pre-recorded lectures and animated videos.


Pre-recorded lectures/videos:

Animated videos;

Podcasts: audio recordings available to students online

Interactive Online Presentations

Self paced digital learning resources / Reusable Learning Resources (RLOs): files that can track the progress of a student; these can be embedded in the VLE

Open Educational Resources (OER): Digital Learning Repositories or Toolkits

This form of learning requires students to search out, critique and use resources from different locations. It requires more active student learning.  For example, it follows a process of brainstorming, information gathering (online or other) and then critical group discussion (or presentation). 

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Mind Mapping tools support the development images/text to represent interrelated concepts in the form of a visual that can be shared via a URL.

Collaborative Tools - that would allow for brainstorming, sharing, producing and collaborating (often in real time)

Digital Pin Boards:

Online whiteboards:



Project Management Tools

Educational Content Curation Tools

Other Tools

  • UCD Library Databases 
  • SPSS
  • MS Excel

This form of learning requires learners to articulate their ideas, questions and to respond to the ideas of the lecturer/tutor and/or their peers.

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Asynchronous discussions facilitate discussions between groups of learners, it can be useful for more reflective conversations where real-time interaction is not required.



Synchronous discussions enable users to exchange text-based comments in real time through a variety of tools i.e. virtual classroom, instant messaging, video conferencing

Video conferencing;

Backchannel tools:

In this form of learning students have to apply what they have learned into a given context in their discipline. It has often been described as experiential learning, or learning by doing.

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Allocated roles in Wikis, Blogs, Group Discussions


Game based/VR simulations

Interactive 360 Video making tools:

Simulations/Virtual Labs/Role Plays using both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality 

This form of learning requires students to collaborate to produce a joint output or artefact. The learning from the  process of the collaboration itself is also very important.

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Collaborative tools i.e. wikis, blogs, discussion forums

Peer and Self review and assessment tools  

In this form of learning, students are motivated to learn by having to produce an artefact. The traditional essay is one example but various tools allow for creativity through different audio visual formats i.e. posters, videos, animations, word clouds, slideshows, ePortfolios etc.

Educational Technologies

Examples of Tools

Written assignment upload/submission (different formats -written, video, audio)

UCD VLE: Brightspace

Concept Maps

  • Mind Mapping Tools (see above)

Project work - Posters/ Audio Visual Presentation/Infographics/Word clouds


  • Brightspace: integrated ePortfolio

External portfolio/blog sites;

Animated Video Tools/Video Making and Editing Tools 

Video making tools:

We have numerous UCD teaching and learning showcases shared by faculty and staff with examples of using and embedding educational technologies


  • Biggs, J and Tang, C. (2007) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, 3rd Edition, Buckingham: The Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press. 
  • Bower, M  and Torrington, J. (2020) Typology of Free Web-Based Learning Technologies Educause (available online via: https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2020/4/freewebbasedlearntech2020.pdf)
  • Littlejohn, A. & Pegler, C. (2007) Documenting e-learning blends, In, Preparing for Blended E-Learning. pp.70-93. New York: Routledge. 
  • Laurillard, D. (2012) Teaching as Design Science: Building Pedagogical Pattern for Learning and Technology. London: Routledge.